Following yesterday’s announcement on IBI Plus about a potential merger between Fountaine-Pajot and Dufour Yachts, Salvatore Serio, head of Dufour, and Fountaine-Pajot general managers Nicolas Gardies and Romain Motteau shed some light on the reasoning behind their plans.

When did the idea of a merger between Fountaine-Pajot and Dufour Yachts arise?

Romain Motteau: The first meetings took place at the beginning of January, and have just materialised. The discussions were therefore quick to reach an agreement. However, we have had to consult the employees of each company and get their agreement for this decision to be definitively endorsed. That should happen in a month.

How did the alliance come about? Whose initiative was it?

Nicolas Gardies: Fountaine-Pajot and Dufour Yachts are two neighbouring companies located in the same town, La Rochelle. We often meet in the city, in the salons, which favours exchange.

You’ve announced that Fountaine-Pajot will take a majority stake in Dufour Yachts. Can you tell us the financial amounts involved in this operation?

Romain Motteau: The financial details will be known in due time. Fountaine-Pajot will taka a majority stake in the capital of Dufour with the support of two financial partners: the Caisse Régionale du Crédit Agricole Charente-Maritime Deux Sèvres, and UNEXO, a Crédit Agricole Group regional investment fund, fonds d’investissement régional du Groupe Crédit Agricole, which will operate both in capital and via its debt fund.

IBI notes that these are not the same financial partners that supported Fountaine-Pajot in the previous major operation, completed in October 2017, when it acquired a majority stake in Dream Yachts Charter (No. 2 worldwide rental of pleasure boats) carried out with NextStage. This involved an investment of €14.1m from NextStage and €11.5m from Fountaine-Pajot.

What has been the reaction of employees at both companies?

Salvatore Serio: Our teams have reacted very well internally, and no negative points were raised.

Nicolas Gardies: Our employees are very proud to work with Dufour. We are sister companies of similar size, located 15km apart. The two structures will remain autonomous, with their current management teams in place, and the fate of employees and their social benefits will be preserved.

What synergies will arise between the two structures?

Romain Motteau: We are talking more about “complementarity”, particularly of the commercial network. This is obvious at the geographical level, where we will have a more homogeneous distribution between Dufour’s products, which are very present in Europe, and the Fountaine-Pajot brands, which are very well represented in the Americas. Our two companies each have a very healthy financial health and a full order book.

Did Jean-François Fountaine, founder of the Fountaine-Pajot shipyard and current mayor of La Rochelle, play a role in the negotiations?

Nicolas Gardies: The negotiations were made been Salvatore Serio, Romain Motteau and myself, but the agreement was of course validated by Jean-François Fountaine, shareholder of the company and keen observer of the French nautical industry.